Known for his powerful style, James Carew is always on the hunt for waves or some good conditions to send it with his strapless freestyle. The guys at Duotone caught up with him to see how he’s been getting on with his new gear.


Hi James, how are you doing? Where are you currently?

Hi there, I’m good, everything is good here. I’ve been scoring some pretty solid waves, nice conditions. I’m on a little mission at the minute, I can’t tell you where, but you’ll all see some footage really soon, it’s going to be sick!

Sounds good! We spotted a few little teasers on your social channels. Having been on the Neo SLS kites for a good few months, can you give us an update on your impressions of them?

The first sessions I had on them I remember light wind wave sessions. As soon as I let the kite drift a little bit the difference was insane, the ability of the kite is amazing, it drifts so well especially in light wind, the ability in light winds is ten times more!

How would you compare the feeling from the classic construction? How does the kite feel at the bar?

The bar pressure for me feels pretty similar, but the turning is much faster and it feels like it turns differently. It turns superfast and it’s always powered, it’s never kind of flapping in the wind. Sometimes when it’s drifting and moments of no wind, it doesn’t fall out of the sky, because it is so light. It just stays up in the air and flicks back into the wind and off you go again.

That was really showcased in a clip from Noè he shot in Portugal, you could visibly see the kite just hanging in the air!

Yeah doing the bottom turn and the kites not even pulling me or doing anything, it’s just floating. As soon as I hit the top it catches the wind again and just goes! It doesn’t drop at all! It’s insane!

Where have you been during the past year, have you been able to go back to Australia?

I haven’t been to Australia for over a year. I’ve been in Europe a fair bit, I’ve done two trips to Portugal and I got a lot of riding there. I’ve been around that area there (South-West Europe) in Tarifa and a lot of riding in Brazil too. I’ve ridden in a lot of conditions and overall, it’s performed way better than last year’s gear!

The trip to Portugal, how did the trip come about?

I was based in Tarifa, it’s just a 6-hour drive, I saw some swell coming and that was it, I was going! I packed my bags, got in the car and just went.

Alongside the kites you’re running the SLS surfboards. Which ones do you choose to ride and how have they been working for you?

Very recently I’ve been riding the Wam SLS, the 5’9. Previously I would be on the 5’8 Pro Session, but last year I tried out the 5’9 and in most conditions, it was better for me because it has a little bit more volume and you can ride a little bit as you would a surfboard. It really carries your across the flat spots at the bottom of a wave, you can really use the wave because you have that extra volume. I’ve really been loving this board and the square tail allows you to get a lot of performance for fins out and 360s and things like that.

I’ve also been riding the Voke SLS a lot for freestyle. The Voke SLS for this is so good! It’s so light and the way it flies through the air is really good!

Freestyle game. When on trips is it the spot that dictates your session?

Yeah, strapless freestyle can be a little different, sometimes you travel to a spot like Cumbuco (Brazil) and it’s a lagoon, but the majority of the time, if it’s good for strapless freestyle, I’ll ride strapless freestyle and if it’s good for waves I’ll ride waves. As we go to so many spots and the conditions are always different, I just take all my boards and pick what is best on that day.

What tips do you have for people who want to learn some of the tricks you’re doing on the water?

The best way to do it now is the Duotone Academy App, there are heaps of lessons in there and they are all super simplified. They give you everything you need to know, so it’s a really good way to do it. For me the biggest thing is consistency, you got to keep trying, every little failure will be a step closer, but don’t be scared to stuff it up, just keep trying!

What plans or trips do you have for the coming months?

I have a lot of projects in my mind and a lot of spots I want to go to. I think at this time they are more flourishing in my mind as the comps aren’t happening and other things are being triggered, for example, I’ll see a swell and want to go or I’ll see someone scoring waves at another spot and want to go. It’s hard to say right now as most of the spots I can’t go because of the travel restrictions are too hard. In the next few months I want to progress my wave riding, so maybe Morocco or back to Portugal, hopefully if the lockdown is eased. Or even around the Cape Verde area.

For some people, traveling has been fairly unrestrictive and easy during the pandemic, how has your experience been?

I think it’s actually easier being Australian. Where I’m from life is kind of normal, it’s not like you see anything bad on the news about the virus in Australia. So that has made it a little easier to travel as an Australian. I mean so far travel has been pretty easy. At the start of lockdown when the world was going crazy it was a little difficult, but it still wasn’t that hard, or maybe not as hard as I thought it would be. Some spots I haven’t been able to go, so I’ve just gone to other places. I’ve still been able to travel.

With the Neo SLS, you mentioned how good the performance is in the low end, have you had the chance to see how it is when you are powered up, perhaps for strapless freestyle?

Yeah, I have, when the kite is super-powered it seems to be faster. The last kite, when you are overpowered, it doesn’t turn as fast, you really have to pull on the bar, but this year when you are really powered doing kite loops and sending jumps it’s much easier. It moves with a lot of fluidity when it’s powered, it’s super nice!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today James and hope you guys score on that next swell that’s coming in!

It was a pleasure! Thank you, hopefully it comes soon!


This article first appeared on Duotone’s website here.

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